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View Full Version : Hate on-line Catalogs?



BigBoy1
12-18-2006, 07:16 PM
Are you like me and hate on-line catalogs and enjoy looking at a REAL paper catalog with pages you can turn? If so, I have an older copy of the big McMaster-Carr catalog that I will send to the first person who request it. The prices may not be up to-date but at least you can hold the catalog and turn paper pages and look at the items.

Since I have received much good information from this site, I'll ship the catalog prepaid to the first one who contacts me. Please provide a mailing address in your note. Sorry to those across the pond, but will send only to US address. Thanks.

Bill

lane
12-18-2006, 07:45 PM
I aggree with you I like paper but I dont need the catalog send to some one else cause I have a NEW one.

nheng
12-18-2006, 08:17 PM
Some of the better electronic catalogs have sunken to become some of the worst.

McMaster is probably the best one left in terms of speed, ease of use, rapid access to original catalog page, decent image sizes, etc.

MSC was good, now pretty much sucks as does Enco and others who have gone to PDF format catalogs with either tiny thumbnails and a FREE magnifier ;) in lieu of text based engines that worked WELL along with PDF formatted original catalog pages IF you want them.

In an effort to add the latest in web and language based features, these companies seem to be rendering some of their catalogs useless.

I attribute this to talented but misguided young developers who do not understand what products are being offered BUT WORSE, seem to get little help from older, more experienced staff.

I just wonder how much inventory will SIT forever on shelves due to inadequate search engines or poorly planned search term databases. Den

spope14
12-18-2006, 08:45 PM
I have become very acustomed to using MSC online, you get the best idea of prices and availability doing so. Too often I have ordered tools from MSC only to find the tool or cutter unavailable or out of stock. I can also click on a link to ask for more info and paste in the link of the page/item and cut and paste details if needed to ask for more info, and I usually get the info in one to three hours with minimal lost time "hanging" on the phone.

lazlo
12-18-2006, 09:14 PM
Are you like me and hate on-line catalogs and enjoy looking at a REAL paper catalog with pages you can turn?

I hate most online catalogs, but McMaster's is really nice. MSC and J&L Industrial have the worst online catalogs. If you search on a reasonable descriptive term, say "R8", you get a billion unrelated hits. I usually end trying to find a somewhat related item, jump to the PDF catlog, and flip page-by-page.

Strangely, I find that Enco (a subsidiary of MSC) has one of the best online catalogs, although not as nice as McMaster. KBC's is decent.

By the way, was anyone else annoyed when MSC and Enco stopped allowing dowloadable PDF files of their sales flyers and now make you use that terrible Flash viewer online?

wirewrkr
12-18-2006, 10:53 PM
Big Boy if you still have that cat, I' would love to have it. Their online shopping is better than most once you learn to use it, but nothing beats a McMaster Carr catalog to read at lunchtime.
Robert

BadDog
12-19-2006, 02:03 AM
By the way, was anyone else annoyed when MSC and Enco stopped allowing dowloadable PDF files of their sales flyers and now make you use that terrible Flash viewer online?
God, I hate the flash thing! I even went through the buggy "how do you like this" feedback crap just to complain about it. That was when it first changed, looks like they don't listen since I've yet to hear of ANYONE who does not hate it.

Your Old Dog
12-19-2006, 05:36 AM
I'd love to know what the total cost per customer would be to send them one of those huge catalogs. How many customers are like me, have the catalog but haven't ordered anything. As much as I enjoy having the catalog I do think in this day and age the online catalogs make more sense from a business standpoint unless you know you are dealing with a bonified, got several employee's, own a forklift, got a big parking lot type of business !!

On that note, got my Enco deliver yesterday! Christmas about 7 days early!! Still feel like a kid when the UPS truck backs into the drive :D

HTRN
12-19-2006, 05:56 AM
I hate most online catalogs, but McMaster's is really nice. MSC and J&L Industrial have the worst online catalogs.

I'm not surprised, MSC bought J&L earlier this year from KennaMetal for $350 million.


HTRN

dicks42000
12-19-2006, 08:04 AM
Man could this topic get me going.....

Firstly, the McMaster-Carr paper catalogue is a tradition in machine shops & maint. departments N. America wide, along side "Marks Std. Handbook of Mechanical Engineering" & "Machinery's Handbook". If not, it should be...
I would imagine it's available on CD as well, which if done right, could almost be as convenient as the hard copy....But then I'm a luddite...:)
I'll also support the motion that their on-line cat. is good, too. Then again they are in the quick-shipping, one off, industrial supply business, so it had better work....

As for the others in the "industrial supply" business, most on-line stuff sucks big time & is a waste.....In my day-to-day business (Heating, plumbing, sheet metal work) It would be convenient to be able to go on-line to get prices for quotes, order stuff for up-coming jobs, etc....Most local & Western Canadian suppliers (largely American or British owned, I'll add) have the most pathetic web-presences...No or out dated pricing, websites that tell you how wonderful the place is to work at but no product information, clunky PDF formats (stick to HTML....), poor or non-existant means of ordering,...product info in Chinglish (tool & machine suppliers, you know who you are !!!)....or strange regionalization; Eg, where the company's Alberta branches will have a web based option, but it can't/ won't be available in BC or Saskatchewan....

What gives ? We are constantly told by every yuppie you trip over how wonderful on-line business is....Every child is told, or wants, to be some kind of web site or game developer or some kind of cyber-babble geek rather than a machinist, plumber, weldor, (insert any kind of dirty industrial job...). All of the larger companies must have IT departments....You would think that somebody would have developed some kind of easy to use software to build catalogues & do ordering with. Maybe the person-power to do this & to maintain an on-line system is too much, but I would have thought a business case could be made for it within most medium to large sized supply houses.
I know people who are home based artisans (copper work) & musicians who can make on-line sales work, so it can be done....

Anyhow, that's my rant. May not be logical, but that's how I see it....
Rick

mmambro
12-19-2006, 08:16 AM
I think McMaster-Carr has them all beat with respect to both printed and on-line catalogs. I can't understand why the other supply houses don't use the McMaster-Carr web site as a good example to follow (or follow their lead in superb customer service).

I think Travers has absolutely the worst on-line catalog.

A bit OT:
McMaster-Carr also wins when it comes to shipping charges and order turn around time. Mcmaster-Carr gets orders to me for lower shipping charges than do Travers and MSC, both of which are physically much closer to me!?! Another added plus of McM-Carr, is that I never have to be concerned about the quality of the items they will be shipping to me.

Mike

BobWarfield
12-19-2006, 10:37 AM
I love the online world for:

- The order once I have enough info to order. Hate telephone ordering.

- Finding the exact # or price when I know basically what I want.

- Comparison shopping for the best price.

I prefer paper when I don't really know exactly what I want, and need to browse some general category like "lathe chucks" or "vises". It's rare that I discover a new product in an online catalog. That comes from the paper catalog or a recommendation from some other web site. Like this one!

Best,

BW

pcarpenter
12-19-2006, 11:18 AM
I agree there is no substitute for the browsability of a paper catalog. I find that I do a lot of in-my-head engineering (boy is that scary) based on the use of things I would not know about if I had not browsed catalogs in the past.

That having been said, McMaster-Carr has a great web search function allowing you to search on a keyword, then narrow downward from a list of sub-topics in the left column. After a point, as you narrow qualifying specs, it shows you a cumulative list of stuff that just meets your needs. This is not an on-line catalog, but a view on their product database that is really handy.

Paul

Swarf&Sparks
12-19-2006, 11:20 AM
And don't you love the sites with the sound and flash animation that list:
Phone
email (maybe)
and fax (!)
with NO product information <sigh>

Wirecutter
12-19-2006, 11:38 AM
Continuing the rant about online catalogs...

When I browse online cats, like McMaster, I like to use the "open in another tab" feature of my browser. That way, if it's not what I want, I close the tab and I haven't lost my place on the original page. McMaster won't do that for some reason, and instead what I get when I "open in another tab" is the McMaster home page.

Pluses for McMaster:
1. Helpful guides, like "how to select a [endmill or drill or whatever]"
2. When you get too many results from a search, the frame on the left shows a "tree" structure that you can browse through to zero in on what you want.
3. Huge inventory nearby, so I get orders overnight with UPS ground shipping.

Minuses for McMaster:
1. The complaint mentioned above.

Pluses for MSC:
1. Even more stuff specific to metal work than McMaster
2. Ability to "open in another tab" when getting the details on an item.
3. Huge inventory nearby, so I get orders overnight with UPS ground shipping.

Minuses for MSC:
1. Hard to search for specific variations of a common item, like an endmill - too many search results.

The rest of it is simply having to get used to a new interface everytime a company decides to re-jigger their web site. I wish there was some standardization. One thing I like about this BBS is that it shares a basic look and feel with several other discussion forums. Once you learn one, it's easy to work with another. I guess they all use the same software?

-Mark

micrometer50
12-19-2006, 11:53 AM
A little off the subject but what I hate are web sites with lots of information about buying but nothing about parts ,repair or other support after the sale.

Swarf&Sparks
12-19-2006, 12:02 PM
Hey, we could create a whole new industry here!
An "interface" between management and I.T. :D
Change for change's sake is not a good thing: AKA
If it aint broke, don't fix it.

ERBenoit
12-19-2006, 12:46 PM
I have the both printed catalogs from MSC and McMaster-Carr.

I would not want to be without either.

However, guess which one I very rarely open?

john hobdeclipe
12-19-2006, 07:57 PM
I'll take a paper catalog any day, for browsing, flipping pages back and forth, writing notes in the margins, and finding something when I know about what it looks like, but don't know what it's called. I can take my print catalog with me to an auction, or sit on the back porch and compare specs and prices at leisure.

In my opinion, there is no excuse for an online catalog to be slow or hard to navigate. All the fancy graphics, Flash, Java, slow loading eye candy is, to me, downright immature, and an insult. It tells me that the management of the company are so isolated that they never even look at or try to navigate their own website. Or perhaps, like department store and grocery store designers, they think I will buy more if I spend more time there. Wrong!

REID TOOL, TRAVERS, are you listening?

All the latest in glitzy web technology is cute, and has it's place (somewhere, I think.) But I want tools and supplies and information, without wasted time and sillyness, and a catalog is simply another tool. Keep it simple!!! Leave the flash intro, the scrolling messages, the mouse-over effects to the Sesame Street crowd.

TraversWebMaster
01-18-2007, 10:13 AM
Dear mmambro,

We acknowledge that the Travers.com web site online catalog may be less sophificated then McMaster-Carr or MSCdirect. We are currently reviewing several online catalog display products which would enhance our master catalog and brochure presentations, as well as review new web site platforms to support the online strategies we wish to launch in the future.

If you have any questions regarding the state of the current web site, or regarding any online projects we may be planning, please contact me at cingersoll@travers.com or contact one of our website CSRs at sales@travers.com.

Thanks
Chuck Ingersoll
Travers Web Master

rantbot
01-18-2007, 10:50 AM
like department store and grocery store designers, they think I will buy more if I spend more time there. Wrong!

A good point. Real-life stores are geared to sucking up your time.

I did some design work on a machine which drugstores could use to print personalized Christmas carts with gold foil on the customer's photos. Pharmacies with quick-turnaround photo departments would buy them, one huge chain in particular. The Powers at that chain had a number - I don't remember what it was - for how much more money the average customer would spend for every minute he loitered around inside the store. They figured that the card printing machine was well worth the cost, even if it never turned a profit itself, simply because of the extra shopping people would do while waiting for their hundred cards or whatever to be printed.

Web sites are different. If I don't see more or less immediately where to find what I'm after, I move on to another site. Not everyone who writes web sites realizes that yet.

My personal peeve is pdf files instead of proper html. Embedded pdfs tend to crash browsers far more often than anything else I come across online. A customer won't come back to a site which he knows is going to crash his browser.

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 02:15 PM
Death to cyber-imperialist! :D

http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php

instant PDFs

small, fast and free
Usual disclaimer, just a satisfied user.

zopi
01-18-2007, 02:58 PM
Bad Web design is pandemic...

I work for the big tax hole in the ocean, so getting copies of Graingers and MSC..Empire machine etc is no problem...

BadDog
01-18-2007, 03:23 PM
I also despise PDFs, and for many more reasons that crashing the browser. For ANYTHING other than something that WILL be printed or has been scanned (like manuals which may have been scanned and might well be printed), PDFs should be ALWAYS BE AVOIDED.

Swarf&Sparks
01-18-2007, 03:33 PM
Try the foxit reader, BadDog. It makes PDFs almost bearable :D

Carld
01-18-2007, 04:23 PM
I too dislike online catalogs but use them to find what I want and then call to make the order. I like to talk to a face, ahhh, make that voice, to order stuff. I like to ask questions and get answers NOW.

It seems to me that the online catalogs could be less complicated and with no side bar adds or specials. If they just had the photos and descriptions and prices of the stuff it would be much better to me. KISS---keep it simple stupid and I mean just exactly that. Paper catalogs are great but the prices change requiring a phone call which is what I do anyway but it is hard to get some company catalogs if not imposible. I did get MSC's catalog on a CD for a while and that was ok.

Paul Alciatore
01-18-2007, 11:22 PM
Hey, we could create a whole new industry here!
An "interface" between management and I.T. :D
Change for change's sake is not a good thing: AKA
If it aint broke, don't fix it.

Lots of luck there. I have found that IT/computer types are very determined to do it their way at all costs. If they have read or been taught that it should be done in such and such a manner, no amount of logic short of nuclear weapons will change their minds.

BadDog
01-19-2007, 01:51 AM
Try the foxit reader, BadDog. It makes PDFs almost bearable :D
Almost... ;)

john hobdeclipe
01-22-2007, 10:19 AM
Dear mmambro,

We acknowledge that the Travers.com web site online catalog may be less sophificated then McMaster-Carr or MSCdirect. We are currently reviewing several online catalog display products which would enhance our master catalog and brochure presentations, as well as review new web site platforms to support the online strategies we wish to launch in the future.

If you have any questions regarding the state of the current web site, or regarding any online projects we may be planning, please contact me at cingersoll@travers.com or contact one of our website CSRs at sales@travers.com.

Thanks
Chuck Ingersoll
Travers Web Master

Thanks, Chuck, for reading these criticisms and taking the time to respond. I, for one, will be pleased to see a workable website from a company that has become my favorite supplier over the years (not that I really buy all that much.)